Smiling older adult woman pausing for a break during pool exercise.

How Seniors Can Lower Their Risk of Heart Disease

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, with high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking being major risk factors. While young people can develop heart disease, it is more common in adults aged 65 and older. The good news is that there are several steps you can take to prevent and manage these conditions.

Continue reading to learn some of the ways you can lower your risk of heart disease.

Get Regular Exercise

Getting regular physical activity* is one of the most important things you can do for your health. Exercise can delay or even prevent many of the health problems that develop as we grow older.

The CDC recommends that adults aged 65 or older get at least:

  • 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity activity, such as brisk walking. Or 75 minutes a week of more vigorous-intensity activity, such as hiking, jogging or running.
  • 2 days a week of activities that strengthen muscles, such as lifting weights or bodyweight exercises (you can modify these exercises based on your fitness level).
  • 3 days a week of activities to improve balance, such as yoga or balance exercises.

One of the better ways to develop a fitness routine that you’ll stick with is to exercise alongside others. At Edgemere, a senior living community in Dallas, Texas, we prioritize resident wellness. Our aerobics studio, fitness center, swimming pool and walking paths make fitness fun.

*Disclaimer: Always speak with a doctor before starting any new exercise routine. They can help determine what lifestyle changes are best for you based on your current health status.

Follow a Heart-Healthy Diet

Following a heart-healthy diet** is an excellent way to prevent and manage all types of cardiovascular disease, and improve your overall health. There is some scientific evidence that supports the Mediterranean diet. This is largely because it encourages eating patterns that are lower in animal fat and rich in plant-based proteins. However, most health experts agree that there’s no such thing as a perfect diet. The best diet is one you’re able to stick with.

Easy-to-find heart-healthy foods include:

  • Fresh vegetables, including tomatoes, broccoli, asparagus and carrots.
  • Salads consisting of leafy greens like Romaine lettuce, spinach and kale.
  • Fresh fruits like apples, blueberries and oranges.
  • Healthy nuts and seeds, such as almonds and walnuts.
  • Seeds, including flaxseeds and chia seeds.
  • Fish high in omega-3s, such as salmon and canned, light tuna.
  • Whole-grain foods, such as oats, whole-grain pasta and brown rice.

You should also consider portion size and variety in your meals. At Edgemere, our culinary team aims to provide fresh, heart-healthy menu options for residents across our dining venues.

**Disclaimer: Always speak with a doctor before starting any new diet. They can help determine what lifestyle changes are best for you based on your current health stat

Build Better Sleep Habits

The American Heart Association recently added sleep to its eight key measures for improving and maintaining cardiovascular health. Research has shown that adequate sleep improves brain function and reduces the risk for chronic diseases. Most adults need anywhere from seven to nine hours of sleep each night to stay healthy. This is also true for older adults.

That said, many older adults find it harder to get a good night’s rest. Insomnia is the most common sleep problem in adults aged 60 and older. There are many reasons for this. Feeling sick or being in pain can make it hard to sleep. Some medicines can keep you awake at night.

In order to improve your quality of sleep, you should try to:

  • Follow a regular sleep schedule.
  • Avoid napping in the late afternoon or evening.
  • Develop a bedtime routine.
  • Avoid electronics in the bedroom.
  • Keep your bedroom at a comfortable temperature.
  • Use low lighting in the evenings as you prepare for bed.
  • Exercise at regular times each day, but not right before bed.
  • Avoid eating large meals close to bedtime.
  • Stay away from caffeine later in the day.
  • Don’t use alcohol as a sleep aid.

The National Institute on Aging’s website provides even more information about how to get a good night’s sleep. If your sleep problems persist, you may need to see a doctor.

Additional Actions You Can Take for Better Heart Health

Quitting smoking is one of the most impactful lifestyle changes you can make for better cardiovascular health. The use of inhaled nicotine delivery products, which includes cigarettes, e-cigarettes and vaping, is the cause of about a third of all deaths from heart disease.

In addition, it’s important for older adults to establish a relationship with a primary care physician and get regular checkups on a schedule that best matches their health status. Your doctor can check for high cholesterol, high blood sugar and high blood pressure. If you have any of these conditions they will be able to prescribe the best course of treatment for managing them.

Focus On Your Health at Edgemere

At Edgemere, we believe it’s never too late to live a healthier life. For many older adults, moving into an independent living community not only offers a more convenient way of living — it also encourages them to stay active and achieve their health goals. In addition, our wellness program emphasizes all-around physical, spiritual, intellectual and emotional well-being. If you are an older adult that is looking to get more active, then you should definitely consider life at Edgemere.

Contact us or complete the form below to learn more about our community.